This past weekend I was in the lovely Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  A good friend is back from literally a trip around the world: 14 months in Nepal and then they traveled to Maui, the Philippines, Iceland, France, Germany, Amsterdam etc…so off we went for a visit with her at her parents.  They live on an very tranquil piece of property just outside of Courtney, BC.

Good times, wine, food and friends makes for a wonderful weekend.  After a morning at the spa: walking a hydro path, a fantastic lunch at Atlas and a snooze on the lawn in the afternoon sun, we decided to round out the weekend with a chilled west coast tradition. So, Sunday evening just us ladies packed a picnic for the beach, made a campfire in the wind, ate some good food, chatted and drank Babyduck.  One of the goodies in the cooler that we packed was a delicious curried quinoa salad.

This salad is packed full of protein.  And gets better as the flavours meld in the fridge, so a great meal to make and have in the fridge for lunches or a light summer dinner.  I love the savoury coupled with the sweet, the crunchy and the chewy.  Mmmm.

curried quinoa salad

1 lime
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu cut into 1 inch cups
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup dried apricots sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil


  1. Squeeze juice from lime into a medium bowl.  Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Add tofu and marinate for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly.  Drain and place in a medium sauce pan along with the broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork, set aside.
  3. While quinoa is simmering, preheat oven to 350F. Place walnut pieces on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, green onion, parsley, cilantro, apricots, toasted walnut pieces, cranberries (if using) and cooked quinoa.
  5. For dressing mix curry powder, lime juice, honey, and canola oil in a seal-able container, shake well to mix and pour over quinoa mixture and mix.
  6. Refrigerate salad for at least one hour.  Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat: remove tofu from marinade and cook for 2 or 3 minutes per side until browned.  Add cooked tofu to quinoa salad mixture, mix and serve.

Glow, May 2010 pg. 92


A friend’s fiancé is a chef.  He is also one of the most humble chefs I have ever met.  At gatherings he always brings something delicious, and yet every time he is able to compliment others and their creations.  I admire that.

One of the things he has served a few times is a warm spinach or arugula salad – and they are always delicious.  Most recently he served one with pancetta and bocconcini.   I wasn’t really paying attention to what was in it, just that it was super tasty and a little different: rich and yet still a great depth to it.  This salad is inspired from his…certainly not a duplication, I could never do it justice.  So thank you to him, and as always I will always look forward to a lovely meal with them.

spinach salad


4 slices pancetta

1/2 small red onion, sliced paper thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half, or even quartered if large enough
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup bocconcini, chopped
4-6 cups clean and dried spinach and arugula leaves


  1. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, fry up prosciutto, once browned, remove and cool on a paper towel – they will crisp up.
  2. Add one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to skillet, once warmed add onions, cook until softened.
  3. Add finely chopped garlic and tomatoes – cook up for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add balsamic and sugar – allow to thicken.
  5. Stir in mustard.
  6. Add remaining olive oil, emulsify (whisk)
  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the spinach, arugula, crumbled up prosciutto and chopped bocconcini.
  8. Once the dressing has thickened, you may want to season with fresh cracked pepper.
  9. Dress the spinach and bocconcini with the hot dressing.  Mix until leaves begin to wilt.

Serves 4 – a great side!

Couscous, barley, quinoa…and wheat berries. All good for you grains.  Barley was fairly common in our home when we were kids, but other than that we didn’t venture much past wild or brown rice.

Today, really I should say this afternoon, felt like a wonderful spring day.  It was breezy, but sunny.  I took the dog for a walk along the Stanley Park Seawall when I got home from work and felt like a light summer-esque meal.  I have wanted to try wheat berries for a while now and kind of threw this together based on what we had in the house.

I actually really liked it.  If you haven’t had wheat berries before they are a little chewy and take a considerable amount of time to cook…these took 2 hours, though I had read anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours – maybe I didn’t have the temp high enough.  And really, you could add whatever you have in your fridge.  Bean sprouts, sugar peas or carrots would be nice too.



1 cup raw soft wheat berries
2 1/2 cups veggie broth

1 cucumber, cubed
1 large tomato
1 orange pepper
2 green onions
2 cups fresh spinach

3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced

steak, pan fried and then thinly sliced (but anyway you cook it would be good)


  1. Combine wheat berries and stock in a pot, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to cook until the stock has all been absorbed. (anywhere from 1 1/2 – 2 hrs).  Once done cooking, allow to cool.  This may mean spreading them out on a baking sheet and placing in the fridge.
  2. Combine veggies in a salad bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients together and emulsify.
  4. Mix wheat berries, veggies and dressing together – if you want you can combine everything except the spinach and let sit together for the flavours to intensify.
  5. Once steak is cooked and allowed rest, slice thinly and top salad with it.

Serves 3-4

Do you ever have one of those nights when you just don’t know what to cook, and you stare into the fridge, the cupboard, the pantry…you sigh over and over again… just wanting to not deal with it, and have food magically appear? (I recognize the irony of a person with a food blog complaining about not knowing what to make.) Well a few weeks ago I was home alone and the idea of making a full meal just for me seemed ridiculous, but at the same time I couldn’t bring myself around to eating cereal. So I pulled out the supplies I had…and this was the result:

1 cup barely
2 1/2 cups veggie stock
(you could use water, but I found this gave the barely nice flavouring…kind of like risotto!)
1/4 yellow onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1 green onion, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to garnish


  1. Combine barley and stock or water in a pot (if using water I would encourage you to add a little salt as you would when cooking pasta). Bring it to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to low, cover and allow to simmer for 35 minutes. Check for done-ness, it may need a few more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using one tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, fry up the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Once everything is softened, and the onions are translucent remove from heat, and allow to come to room temperature.
  3. Allow barely to cool. I found putting it on a plate and spreading it all out was a good method.
  4. Once everything is nice and cool, combine the sautéed veg, green onions, barley remaining olive oil, lemon juice and mix.
  5. Add crumbled feta – don’t over mix otherwise the feta will disintegrate.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Top with parsley as garnish.

‘Tis the season for lighter eating…I love the time of year when having a big salad is satisfying and refreshing. For the longest time my favourite salad was a Taco Salad, then it was Thai Beef Salads…this may be a new favourite. It is ridiculously fast to make and seemed to be enjoyed by many at a dinner party I brought it to. The picture does not do the salad justice… but alas sometimes you just have to put something up!

Salad to Serve Two (as a meal)

4 cups mixed greens and spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
¼ thinly sliced red onion
½ log crumbled goat cheese

Candied Walnuts/Pecans:

1 cup nuts (I mixed varieties, sometimes even Almonds)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Maple Poppyseed Dressing:

½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup poppy seeds


Salad: combine ingredients – easy!

Candied Nuts:

  1. Toast in a hot frying pan about 2-3 minutes
  2. Add butter, brown sugar and Cajun seasoning (I know random – but the salt and heat is masked, but still adds something)
  3. Allow everything to melt and stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Before mixture begins to burn poor nuts out onto a silpad to cool, separate with the spoon as much as possible to avoid clumps


  1. Put everything except for the EVOO in a food processor/blender and blend – slowly adding ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Mix until emulsified; add 1/3 cup poppy seeds – blend again.

Combine salad, nuts and dressing, top with grilled chicken if you like meat and enjoy!

I have a handful of recipes that I have planned to blog about for a while…but the month got away on me, there should be a few more coming after this one!

We love sushi! But sometimes we don’t feel like going out, let alone taking the time to make it (even if everyone makes their own). This is all the goodness of sushi, with way less time. The best thing is that you can add whatever you like to it. If you LOVE spicy tuna, you could top the salad with spicy tuna sashimi – yum.

1 cup uncooked sushi rice
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 portobello mushroom
1 tsp sesame oil
1 handful snap peas chopped
1 carrot julienned
1 avocado diced
1 red pepper julienned
1/3 of an English cucumber julienned
1/2 cup edamame beans (about 2 cups pods, boiled in water for 6 minutes – cool and seperate beans and pods)
1 cup crab
1 sheet of nori crumbled to top
sesame seeds to top

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp wasabi (or to taste)


  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Combine first amount of rice wine vinegar and sugar in a microwaveable bowl and heat for about 20 seconds, enough to dissolve sugar.
  3. Once rice is cooked, mix the sugar/vinegar in, and allow rice to come to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, slice up portabello mushroom, fry up in first amount of sesame oil.
  5. Once rice is cooled, add all the veggies and crab or any other protein you want to add.
  6. Top with sesame seeds and crumbled nori.
  7. Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients.

I personally thought this recipe was best when fresh – day of, I didn’t love it the next day as a left over. We had it with chicken terriyaki and miso soup, an easy homemade sushi dinner.